Recently diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease

Woman and elderly father walking outside

If a loved one is recently diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, then there are a lot of things you need to do as a caregiver. Understanding the disease is the foremost thing that you must learn as a caregiver. This will help you understand your loved one better. Living with Parkinson’s Disease is not easy and the behavior of your loved one becomes unusual. Making them more forgetful and a lot more non-cooperative. In addition, as a caregiver, you need to provide more support and love to your loved one with Parkinson’s Disease.

Let Us understand Parkinson’s Disease – Get Your Basics Right

Parkinson’s Disease is a chronic neurological disorder. Progressive in nature, affecting motor skills as well as emotions. Your loved one with Parkinson’s Disease may exhibit the following signs and symptoms:

  • Tremors
  • Poor balance
  • Movements are restricted and much slower
  • Spontaneous activity is no longer possible
  • The walking pattern will change gradually
  • More prone to falls and fractures
  • Orthostatic hypotension, characterized by a sudden drop in blood pressure when the person is standing. This leads to lightheadedness and an increased chance of falling.
  • Changes in handwriting and speech
  • Muscles become rigid
  • Fixed posture
  • Freezing

Also, with the above-mentioned signs and symptoms. Your loved one with Parkinson’s Disease will also experience bouts of anxiety and depression.

The 7 Ways to Help Your Loved One with Parkinson’s Disease

Your loved one with Parkinson’s Disease needs your support and love. They expect you to understand their behavior and emotions. This neurological disorder takes a toll on their emotional health. Here are some tips for caregivers to help them take better care of their loved one with Parkinson’s Disease:

1. Communicate - Communication is the best technique. And you can really notice the change in your loved one’s behavior.

For example: If your loved one tells you that they are frightened. Then you need to sit with them and lend your ears and allow them to do the talking. Instead of casually saying that everything will be fine, if you say that you are there for them, would mean a lot.

2. Keep a close watch on the symptoms - Parkinson’s Disease causes a deficiency of dopamine, which leads to depression. So, if you happen to notice sudden changes in mood and behavior of your loved one, it is best to let your health care provider know.

3. Make the home safe for Parkinson's Disease loved ones - Parkinson’s Disease is a chronic disease. And in advanced stages, your loved one is more prone to falls and injuries. Therefore, adopt safety measures to make your home accident proof. Here are some tips, which you can adopt:

  • Remove and replace any unstable furniture from your home. Unstable furniture is unsafe when it is used for support. There are very high chances that they can trip and fall.
  • The floor should be free of clutter and loose rugs. Loose rugs, which do not cling on to the floor, are unsafe, as your loved one may trip over and fall due to their poor balance.
  • Safety rails and grab bars need to be installed in places near the bathroom and toilets. This is because these areas tend to be slippery and your loved ones may tend to fall due to poor balance.

4. Encourage your loved one to exercise - Research has shown that exercise is one of the most effective tools to manage Parkinson’s Disease. Regular exercise has shown to have positive results. And improved mobility of individuals suffering from Parkinson’s Disease.

5. Don't offer help always - It is best to allow your loved one do whatever they are capable of doing. Allowing them to do their daily tasks will help them restore their mobility, balance and also help them to be independent.

6. Take care of their diet and nutrition - Diet and nutrition become an essential part of your loved ones with Parkinson’s Disease. Talk to their nutritionist about their nutritional needs. Encourage your loved ones to eat a healthy and balanced diet regularly. Moreover, the various medications may induce constipation in some cases. Therefore giving them fiber rich foods in various forms can help solve this problem.

7. Get compression stockings for dizziness - As the disease progresses, dizziness becomes a common occurrence. This happens due to a sudden drop in blood pressure when the person stands up. This can lead to falls and injuries. Therefore, wearing compression stockings can help prevent blood from getting accumulated in the legs.

Care for Caregivers

Few of us realize that the process of caregiving takes a toll on our health. And that we as caregivers should also look after ourselves. In order to provide better care to your loved ones, it is necessary that we take good care of ourselves. Practice the following tips to stay healthy and recharged.

  • Take time for yourself, relax and refresh.
  • Talk about your experience as a caregiver with your friends and family.
  • Join support groups and share your view about caregiving.
  • Don't consider yourself to be a super human. Don't try and handle all tasks by yourself. Because failure to do all the tasks will lead to disappointment and frustration. So, it is always better to ask for help from friends and family. In case, when you don't get any, consider getting paid help.
  • Continue to do your favorite hobby. Continue to do what excites you. In this way, you will stay relaxed and will be able to offer better help to your loved one with Parkinson’s Disease.
  • Caring for your loved one suffering from Parkinson’s Disease is not an easy task. There will be times when you become frustrated. Because of their behavior and forgetful nature. Therefore, taking breaks in between to relax your mind and giving rest to your body is extremely necessary. If you stay healthy, you can impart better care to your loved one.

About the author

Tena Scallan is a passionate healthcare professional with over 25 years of caregiving experience. She is the author of The Ultimate Caregiving Expert and offers consulting services to children of senior parents, and caregivers themselves. Tena has dedicated her life’s work to serving others in hospitals, running her own in-home caregiving agency and providing coaching and guidance for family caregivers.